NA-60 by-polls: Neck and neck contest likely between PTI and PML-N

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Staff Report

Rawalpindi

The electioneering for NA-60 Rawalpindi by-elections has entered its final phase with different political parties running conclusive campaigning to grab the seat.

Though several parties have fielded candidates for the by-polls in the NA-60 constituency, where the general election was postponed after the conviction of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Hanif Abbasi in the ephedrine case, it will be a close contest between the former ruling party (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The PTI has fielded former town mayor Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, who is also the nephew of Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, while the PML-N has pitched former tehsil naib nazim Sajjad Khan.

Political pundits say that the victory of any candidate depended on the mobilization of the voters as the PTI has tasked its provincial assembly members to convince the voters while the PML-N has activated local government chairmen and municipal members to seek votes for the party candidate.

Both the candidates have planned their last election rallies. The last PML-N rally will be held at Committee Chowk on Friday and the same day, the PTI will exhibit its political muscles in Dhok Khabba.

Both the candidates and their supporters are fully prepared for a powerful public display on the last day of the election campaign.

The NA-60 constituency — formerly NA-56 Rawalpindi VII — has a total of 356,935 voters including 189,464 male and 167,471 female.

The district election commission, the district administration and police have finalised arrangements to hold the election peacefully.

In NA-60, 646 polling stations have been established which has further been divided into three categories. Around 76 polling stations have been declared most sensitive (A-category), 125 sensitive (B-category) and 445 under the C-category.

As many as 27 polling stations including Shakaryal, Sadiq Abad, Chah Sultan, Amarpura, Dhok Gangal East and West, Glass Factory, Tahmasaf Abad, Committee Chowk, Gulzar Quaid, Shah Faisal Colony and Gulistan Colony polling stations have been declared most sensitive.

More than 4,000 police and other security personnel will be deployed for the security duty outside polling stations. The district administration has also set up a monitoring office at the Government Higher Secondary School-1 on Murree Road for this purpose.

The NA-60 has 28 union councils and three wards of the Chaklala Cantonment Board also fall in its jurisdiction.

In the last local elections, the only candidate of the PTI won from Union Council-30 Chah Sultan on the chairman seat.

All the remaining union councils were swept by the PML-N candidates.

Political analysts say that the public support and higher turnout could benefit the PML-N candidate.

On the other hand, Sheikh Rashid Shafiq said that not only all the four provincial assembly seats were with his party but two of their members were also part of the cabinet.

In addition, Shiekh Rashid Ahmed could utilize his influence to pull out a maximum number of voters to vote for his nephew and the PTI candidate.